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Meet NOM’s Newest Anti-Gay Chairman: John C. Eastman

September 22, 2011 5:02 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Today, National Organization for Marriage (NOM) announced that Maggie Gallagher has stepped down as chair of their group. She has been replaced by Dr. John C. Eastman, law professor at Chapman University School of Law and Founding Director of the conservative Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence.

At first glance, this is good news. Maggie Gallagher has called homosexuality “an unfortunate thing” which represents “at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction.” She has asserted that gays and lesbians are “committing several different kinds of very serious sins.” One would think that her stepping down as NOM’s chairwoman would be good news for an organization that’s looking to avoid being labeled an anti-gay hate group.

Unfortunately, her replacement isn’t exactly an improvement. John Eastman has a long, disturbing history of anti-gay animus. Here are just a few examples:

Eastman Called Homosexuality A Form Of “Barbarism.” In 2000, Eastman published a column for The Claremont Institute in which he called homosexuality one of “two new indicia of barbarism” in the 20th Century:

In 1856, the Republican Party — the party of Abraham Lincoln — included in its platform a stinging criticism of slavery and polygamy, referring to the two institutions as the "twin relics of barbarism." Slavery was barbaric because it deprived some human beings of their liberty, one of the unalienable rights bestowed on all men, all human beings, by our "Creator," to use the words of the Declaration of Independence. Polygamy was barbaric because, as the Supreme Court later recognized, it undermined the concept of marriage, an institution that is necessary for a free society and therefore essential to the consensual government necessary to vindicate the unalienable rights described in the Declaration.

Before the 19th Century closed, America put an end to both relics of barbarism.
Yet in their stead two new indicia of barbarism arose during the 20th Century: abortion and homosexuality. The parallel between the new barbarism and the old is uncanny. Abortion is barbaric because it deprives some human beings of a right even more precious than liberty, the right to life itself — the first of the unalienable rights recited in the Declaration of Independence. And homosexuality, like polygamy, has for centuries been thought to undermine the institution of marriage and the civil society that rests on it.

Eastman Advocated For The Abolishment Of Governments That Support Marriage Equality. During the 2010 California Republican Assembly convention, Eastman told a crowd of people that Americans have the right to respond to “insufferable” government policies like same-sex marriage by “rising up and abolishing those governments.”

Eastman Opposed Same-Sex Parenting. Eastman  claimed that studies demonstrating that gay parents can raise children are “political driven” and have been “pretty solidly rebutted”:

The social science we have on gay couples is relatively in its infancy. There are some early studies out that, quite frankly, are politically driven, methodologically flawed and have been pretty solidly rebutted. But there is no serious study that comes out one way or another on that question, and therefore it's an open question, whether there's something about this particular relationship that might mirror the one history has told us is the norm through all these times. What are the consequences if we get this wrong, and why is it so important to listen?

Eastman Defended The Boy Scouts’ Discrimination Against Gays And Lesbians. Eastman has been a vocal defender of the Boy Scouts right to discriminate against gays and lesbians:

The Boy Scouts of America, as an institution, believes that homosexuality is wrong, just as it believes that adultery and premarital sex are wrong. It exists, in part, to foster those beliefs among the boys whose parents involve them in scouting and to teach boys respect for family as the cornerstone of civilized society. Its mission in this regard is consistent with the teachings of most major religions and in accord with the law of most civilized peoples throughout history. The Boy Scouts has been immensely successful as an organization in no small measure because it has remained true to the moral teachings that have shaped its purpose from its beginning nearly a century ago. It seeks to instill in the next generation of our citizenry the kind of moral virtue that our Founders thought so essential to the perpetuation of our republican institutions and ultimately our freedom. 

The attack on the Boy Scouts is grounded in the claim that their position on homosexuality is nothing but a bigoted, homophobic relic of the past. The cultural elites who launched this assault have essentially redefined our understanding of virtue or, worse, claimed that there is no such thing as virtue. For two centuries, though, the people of this nation and their courts have had little difficulty recognizing the meaning of the term virtue taught by the Boy Scouts, as well as its opposite—at least in nonmarginal case.

Eastman Advocated In Favor Of Vacating Judge Walker’s Prop 8 Decision. Eastman wrote in favor of vacating former district judge Vaughn Walker’s decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, arguing that he was a “direct beneficiary” of his decision to strike down Proposition 8 because he is gay:

Walker's admission requires that his decision in the case be vacated. He is either a direct beneficiary of his ruling in the case, or a person with a close-enough personal interest in the case that his impartiality might reasonably have been questioned if the required disclosures had been made. In Liljeberg vs. Health Services Acquisition Corp., the U.S. Supreme Court held that vacatur is required even when the disqualifying relationship only became known to the parties 10 months after the judgment entered in the case had been upheld on appeal. Where an objective observer would have questioned the judge's impartiality, recusal is required, and the appropriate remedy is to vacate the judgment because of the risk of injustice to the parties and of undermining the public's confidence in the judicial process.

Eastman Defended State Anti-Sodomy Laws. In an article published in the Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law, Eastman warned that the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v Texas (2003), which struck down state laws criminalizing gay sex, was wrongly decided and would eventually lead to the legalization of polygamy:

The damage from Goodridge and Lawrence is more far-reaching even than this, however. As I said, by pretending that there is no rational basis for the long-standing Massachusetts marriage laws or the long- standing Texas prohibition against sodomy, the Goodridge and Lawrence courts actually applied some unspoken form of strict scrutiny. Once that proposition is firmly entrenched, a number of other existing restrictions on whom one can marry, or how many one can marry, would likely fall as well.

Eastman went on to call Lawrence a “despotic” decision that should “give us all pause for concern”:

Whether one agrees with Goodridge and Lawrence or not, surely it is evident that a judiciary powerful enough to impose such rules is also powerful enough to impose the opposite rules whenever it strikes their fancy. The despotic nature of the action itself, rather than the particular action taken in any given instance, should give us all pause for concern.

If Eastman’s past statements are any indication of the direction that NOM hopes to moving towards in the future, Gallagher’s departure is anything but cause for celebration. 


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